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Egypt in the year 1799, and the "Artists and Literati" who accompanied him were packed home again in consequence of the surrender of their military protectors to the British troops, about Midsummer in the year which Mynheer Kirchenhoffer cites.
Be this as it may, for we will not quarrel about trifles, M. Sonnini who was at the head of the Commission of the Arts during his residence in Egypt certainly succeeded in penetrating into some of the tombs of the Kings in Mount Libyeus near Thebes; and in proof of this adventure, which never was doubted, and which produced highly curious results, four pages of that traveller's own words are diligently and correctly printed by Mynh зer Kirchenhoffer in his Preface. From these we learn that several of the mummies found inclosed in the tomb had rolls of papyrus placed on various parts of their bodies, selected for the purpose somewhat oddly in point of taste. These MSS. were eagerly secured by M, Sonnini, who here ceases to be the narrator, and is succeeded by the German Fellow of the University of Pavia who shall speak for himself.
" M. Sonnini hastened to the First Consul, whose curiosity, likewise, being much excited by viewing this hieroglyphical treasure, sent for a learned Copt, who, after an attentive perusal, discovered a key whereby he was enabled to decypher the characters. After great labour, he accomplished this task, and dictated its contents to Napoleon's secretary, who, in order to preserve the matter secret, translated and wrote them down in the German language.
"The First Consul, having consulted the German translation of the roll regarding some transactions in his own life, was amazed to find that the answers given, corresponded strictly with what had actually occurred. He accordingly secured the original and translated Manuscripts, in his private cabinet, which ever after accompanied him, until the fatal day of Leipzic above mentioned. They were held by him as a sacred treasure, and are said to have been a stimulus to many of his grandest speculations, he being known to consult them on all occasions. Before each campaign, and on the eve of every battle or treaty, Napoleon consulted his favourite oracle. His grief for the loss of this companion of his private hours, was excessive; and it is said that, at Leipzic, he even ran the risk of being taken, in his eagerness to preserve the cabinet, containing it, from destruction.
"In a list, drawn up in Napoleon's own hand-writing, on a blank leaf prefixed to the translated Manuscript, are to be seen the following Questions, as put to the Oracle, with their Answers, as received, by that illustrious man. They are here selected, from among many others, on account of the very strong analogy,
I might say identity, which exists between them and some of the most important actions of his life.
"QUESTION 15. What is the aspect of the Seasons, and what Political Changes are likely to take place?
"ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Cross Keys.) A conqueror, of noble mind and mighty power, shall spring from low condition: he will break the chains of the oppressed, and will give liberty to the nations.'
"QUESTION 12. Will my Name be immortalized, and will posterity applaud it?
"ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Pyramid.) Thy name will be handed down, with the memory of thy deeds, to the most distant posterity.'
"QUESTION 8. Shall I be eminent, and meet with Preferment in my pursuits?
ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Pyramid.) Thou shalt meet with many obstacles, but at length thou shalt attain the highest earthly power and honour.”
"QUESTION 12. Will my Name be immortalized, and will posterity applaud it ?
"ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Castellated Mansion.) Abuse not the power which the Lord giveth thee, and thy name will be hailed with rapture in future ages.'
"QUESTION 30. Have I any, or many enemies?
"ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Hand and Dagger.) Thou hast enemies, who, if not restrained by the laws, would plunge a dagger in thy heart.'
"QUESTION 15. What is the aspect of the Seasons, and what Political Changes are likely to take place?
"ANSWER. (Hieroglyphic of Castellated Mansion.) wings of the eagle of the north will be clipped, and his talons blunted.'" Preface, p. x.
The MS. German Translation of the Egyptian scroll, big with the fate of Nations, was found by a Prussian officer among the camp-equipage of Bonaparte after the defeat at Leipzic. The thick-headed Prussian, strangely ignorant of the inestimable value of his booty, sold it to a French General officer then a prisoner of war in the Fortress of Koningsburgh.
"This gentleman aware of its great importance, and knowing from Napoleon's arms, which were emblazoned upon it, that it once belonged to his Imperial master, was resolved on his return to France to present it at the Tuilleries; but, alas! he did not live to accomplish this purpose; for, although his medical attendants him gave every hope of recovery from his wounds, their efforts to restore him to health proved unavailing, for he died soon after from mortification which took place after amputation of the right
"By will, hastily drawn up, the personal effects of this officer
were transmitted to his family, who were enjoined to take the earliest opportunity of putting the Manuscript in question into the Emperor's own hands; but Napoleon's manifold occupations, both civil and military, from time to time, prevented this.
"During the early part of Napoleon's ostracism in St. Helena, means were found of conveying the Manuscript to the Empress, who unfortunately never had an opportunity, although she eagerly sought for it, of sending it to her husband. After his death her Highness gave the Translator her Imperial permission for its publication in the English language." Preface, p. 1.
For this purpose Mynheer Kirchenhoffer was peculiarly fitted by a long residence in England, which has enabled him, as he informs us, very successfully to adapt an ancient Egyptian work to modern eyes and ears. All readers are strenuously exhorted to bear this circumstance in mind: and if they should discover too clear and direct a reference in some parts of the Book of Fate to the manners and customs of the present age, they are intreated by no means to impute such reference to want of authenticity in the Book itself, but to the similarity of the Arts jointly cultivated in Egypt and in England (both of which countries we will add also begin with the same letter); to the double translation which the work has passed through; and to the impossibility of preserving the real idioms of a language in " phrases of a domestic or professional application."
To make his statement clearer and his book thicker, the profound Translator has prefixed to the wondrous scroll itself an "Introductory Account of Ancient Oracles," very faithfully abridged as it seems, for the most part, from certain well known works on the same subject, and interspersed occasionally with conjectural criticisms by the Mynheer himself. Thus Delphos we are assured was so called from Seapos single or solitary, a word which probably may be found in the Greek Lexicon of some future Psalmanaazar; and Trophonius, who was the Mr. Nash of his day, and Antinous who was-quod dicere nolo-are exalted much beyond their expectation to the rank of " Heroes."
But we hasten to "the writing of Balaspis by command of Hermes Trismegistus unto the Priests of the Great Temple." The first paragraph opens with due sesquipedalian magnificence and it requires more than ordinary presence of mind not to be overwhelmed by the occurrences of such imposing names as Thebais, Hecatompylos, Diospolis, Hermes and Osiris-all in the short compass of three little lines. We despair of informing our readers clearly as to the mode of consulting the Book of Fate itself: but, as we earnestly trust that few will omit to purchase it, we shall pass over such directions,
which cannot be understood without a reference to the plate accompanying them, and we shall confine ourselves to one or two collaterals, with the good-natured and facilitating commentary which Mynheer Kirchenhoffer has appended to them.
"How the Enquirer shall obtain a true Answer to the Question which he putteth to the Oracle.-When a man or woman doth come to enquire ought of you, O Priests! let the gifts be made and the sacrifices offered up; and let the invocations of the servants of the temple be chaunted.
"When silence hath been restored, the DIVINER shall direct the stranger who hath come to enquire of the ORACLE, to trace, with a reed dipped in the blood of the sacrifice, in the midst of a circle containing the twelve SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC, five rows of upright or inclined lines, in the manner following HTM TAMALE, taking care that each be readily seen to contain more than twelve lines, in respect of the number of the SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC, but he must by no means do this studiously, or count the number he hath marked, but guide the reed quickly, so that the number, while it be more than twelve, shall be entirely of chance, as far as he knoweth." P. 31.
"Further, O PRIESTS! be warned to make no divination, nor to admit of any gift, sacrifice, or consultation, save during the night season, and that, too, only whilst Isis shineth in the fulness of her beauty. Neither shall ye give Answers on those days or nights in which either OSIRIS who ruleth the heavens by day, or the Queen of his love, who ruleth by night, do veil the comeliness and majesty of their countenances from the eyes of mortals, and whilst they do retire from the labours of their celestial course, within the chambers of their sanctuary of rest.
"These are the words which-I, BALASPIS, have been commanded by my great master HERMES TRISMEGISTUS, to write unto you, O PRIESTS OF THEBAIS." P. 33.
To these two passages respectively the following notes are subjoined.
"The translator feels it incumbent on him, here to notice (from the experience of himself and others in consulting the Oracle,) that he considers some of the above mentioned formalities may, on most occasions, be dispensed with. He has found that for all ordinary consultations the circle and signs may be omitted; and instead of a reed dipped in blood, he and his friends have, invariably and without the least detriment, used a pen dipped in common ink. As to the gifts, sacrifices, and invocations, he considers them in a Christian land to be entirely superfluous; but in their stead it is doubtless requisite that the consulter should have a firm reliance on the goodness and providence of the Creator of all things."
By this mode of expression, it is evident that eclipses of the
SUN and MOON are meant: But it is necessary to notice, that, as far as the experience of the translator and his friends has enabled them to judge, there is no apparent reason or necessity for confining the consultation of the Oracle to any particular time or season. One thing, however, the Consulter should be aware of, which is, that it would be improper for him to ask two questions on the same day; or even to ask the same questions, with reference to the same subject, twice within one calendar month."
When we reflect upon the extreme antiquity of this volume, the exalted personages by whom it has been used a manual, and the many extraordinary and important events which have resulted from its oracular admonitions, we are almost afraid of exciting suspicion that we do not fully appreciate its high and distinguished claim to notice by the terms in which we are about to recommend it. But nothing connected with mortality is durable: the serious studies of one generation become the sports and toys of the next. The philosophy of our ancestors is the jest of our posterity-Ta To πάλαι μεγάλα ἦν, τὰ πολλὰ αὐτῶν σμικρὰ γέγονε--Without any intention therefore of derogating from the dignity of the Emperor Napoleon or of Mynheer Herman Kirchenhoffer, without implying that the Book of Fate must be considered either as an innocent hoar upon the public, or as a grave and well-sustained irony upon Messrs. O'Meara and Co. we strongly advise all those careless and laughing circles which we hope will be gathered round many happy fire-sides in the ensuing winter, to provide themselves with a volume which we can venture to promise will be an increase to their stock of cheerfulness, and will not often fail in its promise of admitting them into the secrets of futurity.
ART. V. A Treatise on Astronomy, Theoretical and Practical. By Robert Woodhouse, A.M. F.R.S. Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and Plumian Professor of Astronomy in the University of Cambridge. Vol. 1. Part I. and II. A new Edition. Cambridge. 1823.
Volume 2, containing Physical Astronomy, 1818.
IN entering upon a review of the work just named, it may be thought by some that we are deviating from the established routine in drawing the attention of our readers to what appears to be only a new edition of an old work. The fact however is, that a book forming the ground-work of the first volume of the present, appeared in the year 1812, under the